M60TM main battle tank
Turkey has completed the modernisation of its M60T main battle tanks to the standard M60TM, a model now deployed in Syria to conduct combat operations, defence news site Army Recognition reported on 16 July 2020. The Firat Project was launched in May 2017 by the SSB to protect the main combat tanks in the inventory of the TSK more effectively against anti-tank threats and terrorist elements, as well as to provide additional capabilities to existing systems. The modernization was carried out by leading defense company ASELSAN. The M60TM, upgraded by Turkish defence company ASELSAN, keeps the design of the original American-made M60T, but fits it with new armor and additional capabilities into existing systems to protect the tank in modern warfare. It includes a remotely operated weapon station mounted on the roof of the turret, a laser warning system, a 360-degree surveillance system and a telescopic mast with camera to conduct surveillance missions on the battlefield, it added. Army Recognition highlighted the ASELSAN-developed the PULAT Active Protection System, a fully autonomous defence system that detects and neutralises incoming anti-tank missiles or rockets, allowing the tank operator to focus on the mission at hand.
During the modernization of the M60T tanks to the M60TM configuration, integrations of several systems, namely, a laser warning system, remote command weapon system, telescopic periscope system, position and orientation detection system, close distance surveillance system, tank driver vision system, protection primer, air conditioning system, auxiliary current system and PULAT Active Protection System were completed. That APS looks like an exact copy of Ukraine’s Zaslon APS.
Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) announced completion of the M60T’s modernisation process on 13 July 2020, saying that SSB President Ismail Demir inspected the final result. The modernization involved the upgrading of the M60T to its M60TM configuration, which SSB Chairman Ismail Demir said made Turkey among only three countries worldwide to possess such capabilities to modernize tanks with active protection systems. The modernization of all M60T battle tanks included in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) inventory has been completed in line with the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) project, the SSB head said. Demir said that the tanks were previously modernized in Israel due to the defense industry’s dependence on foreign tech; however, thanks to local projects carried out in the last decade in Turkey, the country’s external dependence has significantly dropped. Demir stated that there are more elements added to the M60T tanks beyond the modernization that had carried out in Israel. Stating that threat and warning systems, various imaging systems and countermeasure systems had been placed on the tanks thanks to projects carried out in ASELSAN, Demir stressed that one of the most important new features was the active protection system. “This is a very good indication of what we have achieved in our defense industries,” the defense head said, noting that this modernization process was also paving the way for the launching of the country’s first fully indigenous main battle tank, the Altay.
Soon after several Turkish M60A3, M60T and Leopard 2A4 MBTS were hit by Kornet-E/AT-14, Milan, TOW-II, 9K115-2 Metis-M and Fagot/AT-4 Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) launched by Islamic State (ISIS) and YPG/PKK militants during Operation Euphrates Shield (carried out during August 24, 2016 – March 29, 2017) in Syria, in January 2017 the SSB launched a tender for the modernization of 169 M60T, 40 M60A3 and 81 Leopard 2A4 MBTs to improve their protection level and increase their survivability against modern ATGM threats.
The FIRAT-M60T Modernization Project was launched for the modernization of M60T MBTs to increase their survivability against modern ATGM ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) threats, to increase their firepower and their situational awareness. The Main Contract valued at EUR 109,245 Million + TL 25 Million was signed between the SSB and Aselsan on 11 May 2017, and the Amendment no 1 to the contract valued at EUR 96.7 Million + TL 25 Million was signed on 24 July 2018. Under the FIRAT-M60T Modernization Project , the Main Contractor Aselsan, in cooperation with the 2nd Main Maintenance Factory Directorate, integrated a 12.7mm SARP RCWS, YAMGÖZ Close-Range Surveillance System (360° Situational Awareness System), Tank Laser Warning Receiver System (TLUS, to detect, classify, identify and give warning of laser threats aiming on the platform such as; Laser Range Finders, Laser Designators and Laser Beam Riders), Tank Driver Vision System (TDVS), Smoke Grenade Launchers, Air Conditioning System, Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and Audible Warning System and Protective Coating (at the turret walls and ceiling, to maximize crew protection from possible shrapnel threats encountered in the event of RPG and ATGM attacks) on 169 M60T MBTs in the TLFC inventory.
In April 2018 the SSB’s Ismail DEMIR announced with a tweet that under the FIRAT-M60T Modernization Project, delivery of the 90 40mm Automatic Grenade Launchers (AGL) had been completed. 40mm AGLs are integrated on SARP RCWSs and replaced the 12,7mm machine gun. Aselsan in cooperation with MKEK developed 40mm smart grenade munitions with airburst functionality and performed firing tests in April 2018. Some of the modernized M60Ts dubbed M60TM, were deployed during Operation Olive Branch that was launched on January 20, 2018 against YPG/PYD positions surrounding the Syrian city of Afrin.
With the Contract Amendment no 1, the total amount of the Project contract has reached EUR 206 Million + TL 50 Million. In accordance with the amendment to the contract, the AKKOR PULAT Active Protection System (APS) will be installed on 40 of the 169 M60TM MBTs tanks. Out of the 169 tanks named M60TM that were modernized as part of the FIRAT-M60T Project, the Telescopic Periscope System (TEPES) will be installed on 73 of these tanks. Moreover, 90 40mm automatic grenade launchers were procured in 2018 to be used in the tanks.
AKKOR PULAT APS is capable of physical destruction and it is able to simultaneously cope with multiple threats and it provides 360-degree protection capability. The system detects RPGs and ATGMS directed towards the M60TM AMT in the air with the help of the high technology radar it features and destroys them at an optimum distance before they hit the tank. Aselsan displayed the M60TM AMT equipped with the AKKOR PULAT APS in the outdoor exhibition area during IDEF ‘19. According to the information on the product’s brochure, the AKKOR PULAT APS contains three critical sub-systems: The Control Panel, Power Distribution Unit and the Counter Measure Module. Maximum 8 Counter Measure Modules that consists of a millimetre-wave Triggering Radar and Counter Measure Munition can be installed on every MBT. However, according to feedback given by the Turkish Armed Forces, and as no Counter Measure Module deployment was planned over the turret, only 6 Counter Measure Modules (2 on each of the sides, 1 on the front and 1 at the rear) exist on the M60TM. The system can be switched on and off with the help of the Control Panel in the driver’s cab and the Counter Measure Modules can be activated upon request only towards the direction of the threat while other Modules can be deactivated.
When the module is activated, the Counter Measure Munition over it, in the form of a cylindrical stick, emerges out of its socket and remains outside the hull at a distance of 30-40cm. The sensor of the Triggering Radar remains on the tip of the cylindrical Counter Measure Munition. The Triggering Radar is able to scan up to 180 degrees in azimuth and 35 degrees in elevation and is said to be capable of detecting an approaching threat up to 50m and calculates its angle of approach. After the estimation of the optimum intercept point, when the threat is within the range the warhead right at the back of the millimetre-wave Triggering Radar is activated for interception.
When the cylindrical Counter Measure Munition is activated it neutralizes the threat using a dense cloud of fast-moving splinters (small fragments scatter around in the shape of a ring due to the cylindrical form of the munition). The fast moving splinters directly shoots the warhead of the ATGM that constitutes a threat. After a physical impact either the warhead on the threat is disabled or the formation of the gel effect (in the HEAT type warhead) is prevented. According to Aselsan official as the fast-moving splinters moves 35 degrees upwards after the activation, it can, technically, also intercept ATGMs with a top attack capability to a certain extent. In one of his remarks, the former Minister of Defence Nurettin CANIKLI stated that interception up to 8-10 meters was possible with AKKOR PULAT while with AKKOR APS interceptions up to a distance of 100 meters of could be conducted. In the field tests executed with AKKOR PULAT APS, over 400 ballistic tests were conducted against various threats such as RPG, Kornet-E, Konkurs and TOW.
With the help of the Telescopic Periscope System (TEPES) integrated on the M60TM AMTs, secure surveillance and target acquisition capabilities while in the defilade position are gained. On account of Aselsan’s TEPES mast mounted sighting system, which is to be integrated to a total of 73 M60TM AMTs, the tanks gain superior target acquisition and surveillance capabilities with high precision under all types of weather and geographical conditions. The capabilities of TEPES such as motion detection, target tracking, sectoral scanning, integrated operation with other systems (Laser Warning System, Remote Commanded Weapon System, etc.), acquisition of the target coordinates and video/ image recording will dramatically increase the survivability of the M60TM. The system capable of capturing thermal images and TV images via its E/O sensors is capable of conducting laser distance measuring up to 20 kilometers. TEPES can reach a height of 2.5 meters with the telescopic elevation system (mast) over the M60TM turret and is capable of calculating the coordinates of the target detected through INS integration and then submits them to the operator.
Roketsan and Aselsan were selected for the modernization of M60A3 MBTs. With modernization undertaking, the aim is to increase the survivability, the firepower and the situational awareness of 40 M60A3 MBTs (sufficient to equip one tank battalion) in the Turkish Land Forces service. Dubbed the M60A3T1, the modernized M60A3 MBTs are integrated with a 12.7mm SARP RCWS, YAMGÖZ Close-Range Surveillance System (360° Situational Awareness System), Tank Laser Warning Receiver System (TLUS), Smoke Grenade Launchers, Tank Driver Vision System (TDVS), Fire Extinguishing – Explosion Suppression System, Audible Warning System, Power Distribution Unit, Protective Coating and Increased Armor Protection (Roketsan’s add-on ERA armor modules and slat armor at the rear of turret). M60A3T1 MBTs will be also integrated with Aselsan’s AKKOR PULAT APS. Photos of the modernized M60A3T1 MBTs were posted on social media/twitter accounts in March 2018.
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